OK, John Howard says, if panic-merchants want to cut carbon dioxide emissions we'll have to do it with nuclear power. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island notwithstanding, that's perfectly safe these days, even though rogue states and Osama bin Laden franchisees are desperate for bombs.
As for that pesky radioactive waste, it can be safely accommodated underground for the next million years barring accidents or earthquakes. Remember that nuclear power plants only become dangerous when the wrong people want to build them. So Iranian or North Korean nuclear plants may need to be nuked.
So we can see from both cases that one does not need nuclear power to obtain weapons capability. Linking nuclear power deployment to current non-proliferation concerns in this way is unjustified and a distraction to the overall discussion.
But when it comes to the PM's preferred solution to Australia's greenhouse emissions the greatest danger isn't a big bang or radiation leaks. It's time, money and the not-in-our-backyard factor. Apart from no one wanting a plant in the neighbourhood, they cost a motser and don't come on-stream for decades. By then Australia's coastal and harbourside residents will need submarines for public transport.
My opinion is that this number depends heavily on an individual country's regulatory and political atmosphere and experience. That being said, Australia's first, second, or even third nuclear plants will not go up quickly. But decades? I find no justification for such a claim.
A review of the economics may be found here (industry) and some information here (U. of Melbourne).